Mark 1:11 Commentary | Heavenly, Prophetic Confirmation

Mark Commentary

Mark 1:11 Text & Translation

11 καὶ φωνὴ ἐγένετο ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν6, Σὺ εἶ ὁ υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός, ἐν σοὶ εὐδόκησα.1

And a voice came from the heavens: “You are my Son, the Beloved. In you I am well pleased.” (Mk 1:11, AT)

Heavenly, Prophetic Voice

At this time, Jewish teachers believed that prophecy had ceased (with Malachi) but that God spoke from heaven (bath qol). This voice was not considered as important as prophecy.2

Nevertheless, this is not the “daughter of a voice” (bath qol) but the very voice of God.3

God speaks directly to Jesus (2nd person) as in Lk 3:22. (cf. 3rd person Mt 3:17).4

The words of God are a “compound of familiar O.T. phrases Ps 2:7, Isa 42:1; cf. also Gen 22:2… full of meaning”.5

These three Scriptures imply that Jesus is “the royal Messiah, the Son of God” (cf. Ps 2:7), God’s beloved (unique) Son (paralleling Abraham and Isaac; Gen 22:2), and the Suffering Servant of Isaiah (Is 42:1).6

Son of God (Ps 2:7)

Psalm 2 begins:

1 Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, 3 “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.” 4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. 5 He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, 6 “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.” (Ps 2:1-6, NIV)

And Psalm 2:7 says:

I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father. (Ps 2:7, NIV).7

Notably, in Mark, the second line is not included (cf. Ac 13:33).8 As we shall see, Jesus does not “become” the son of God at His baptism – He already is the Son of God (Mk 1:1).

Ps 2:7 was often sung when a Jewish king was enthroned. 9 “My son” is a title for Davidic kings (2 Sam 7:12-16; esp. 2 Sam 7:14).10

God did not adopt Jesus at His baptism.11 He does not become the Son of God; He already was the Son of God (Mk 1:1).12.

Here, His Sonship was not established, but confirmed.13

These words imply that Jesus is “the one through whom God’s reign would be established”.14 Jesus is King (cf. Mk 15:2, 9, 18, 32;15 cf. Mk 15:12, 26)16 – the royal Messiah.17

The Beloved of God

David was the king God loved (Ps 89:28, 33) and Israel as a whole was called God’s beloved (Jer 12:7; Hos 11:1).18

“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. (Hos 11:1, NIV).19

22 Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son,(Ex 4:22, NIV).20

In Mark, the Greek literally reads: “The Son of Mine, the beloved”. In the Septuagint (LXX: ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament), beloved (ἀγαπητός | agapētos) is used used to convey the concept of “favorite” or “only”21 (similar to μονογενής (monogenēs): “one and only” cf. Jn 1:14, 18, 3:16, 18)22 or “unique”.23

This language echoes Genesis 22:

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love [agapētos, LXX] —Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” (Gen 22:2, NIV).24

12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only [agapētos, LXX] son (Gen 22:12, NIV; cf. Gen 22:16).25

God (the Father) will use almost identical language when Jesus is transfigured on a mountain in Mark 9:

7 Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love [agapētos]. Listen to him!” (Mk 9:7, NIV).26

Also, in the Parable of the Tenants, Jesus refers to Himself when he says:

“He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved [agapētos]. He sent him last of all, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ (Mk 12:6, NIV).27

Jesus, as God’s unique Son, receives “full endowment of God’s Spirit, equipping him for ministry”.28

Moreover, Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice His beloved son Isaac (who is also called his one-of-a-kind son (monogenēs) in Heb 11:17) is maybe being paralleled with God’s willingness to sacrifice His beloved son Jesus29 (cf. Jn 3:16).

This account provides heavenly confirmation that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God (cf. Mk 1:1).30

The Servant of God

Finally, the heavenly voice echoes Isaiah 42:

1 “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. 2 He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. 3 A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; 4 he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.” (Is 42:1-4, NIV).31

Notice how the Servant has “patient faithfulness”32 and is nonviolent.33

In the Old Testament, David (Is 37:35), Daniel (Dn 6:20), Moses (2 Ch 1:3), Israel as a whole (Is 43:10) and others are called servants of the LORD (cf. Nebuchadnezzar Jer 27:6, 43:10).34

However, this servant is the prophesied Suffering Servant35 who will justify many by His sacrifice36 (cf. Is 53:11).

Jesus fulfills the prophecy of the Suffering Servant who would bring redemption for God’s people through His suffering (cf. Is 52:13-53:12)37 — and bring the LORD’s salvation to the ends of the earth (Is 49:6).38

In the crux of that prophecy, Isaiah says:

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed (Is 53:5, NIV)

Conclusion

In just a few words, God’s voice from heaven provides heavenly confirmation that Jesus is the Son of God (the royal Messiah of Psalm 2:7), the Beloved Son of God (as Isaac was the beloved son Abraham whom was willing to sacrifice in Genesis 22), and the Servant of the LORD (the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 52:13-53:12 who would bring salvation to the ends of the earth through His sacrifice.

For more commentary on Mark, please visit the Book Study Overview page. For the sources cited, please see the bibliography.

Sources

  1. Barbara Aland et al., eds., The Greek New Testament, Fifth Revised Edition (Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2014), Mk 1:11.
  2. Keener, 130 cf. Edwards, 35; Guelich, 33
  3. Witherington, 75 cf. Bock, 408; Brooks, 43; Guelich, 33; cf. France, 79
  4. English, 39
  5. UBS, 31; Keener, 130; Witherington, 75; Kernaghan, 35; Bock, 408; Garland, 49; Schnabel, 46; Brooks, 43; Edwards, 37; Strauss, 73; cf. Guelich, 34; France, 79
  6. Keener, 130 cf. Guelich, 34
  7. UBS, 31; English, 40; Cole, 108; Lane, 57; Edwards, 37
  8. France, 82
  9. Witherington, 75; Kernaghan, 35; Garland, 49; Edwards, 37; France, 80
  10. Garland, 49; Schnabel, 26; France, 80
  11. English, 40; Edwards, 38; France, 82; Stein, 58
  12. Cole, 108 cf. Lane, 58; Edwards, 38; France, 82; Stein, 58
  13. Edwards, 38-39. Cf. “This is not a ‘functional’ sonship, for up to this point Jesus has done nothing to earn such an affirmation. He is not the Son of God because he does certain things; he does certain things because he is the Son of God. Who he is determines what he does, not vice versa.” Stein, 58.
  14. Kernaghan, 35
  15. Garland, 49
  16. Stein, 74
  17. France, 81
  18. Kernaghan, 36
  19. Kernaghan, 36; Lane, 56
  20. Lane, 56; Edwards, 37; Stein, 58
  21. UBS, 31 cf. Cole, 108; Guelich, 34
  22. Stein, 59. “The term ἀγαπητός, whether derived from LXX Gn. 22:2 (where it represents Hebrew yāḥîd, ‘one and only’) or simply used as a natural expression for a special family relationship, will be echoed not only in the parallel pronouncement at the transfiguration, but also in Jesus’ parable of the vineyard, where the final messenger is contrasted with the earlier δοῦλοι as being a υἱὸς ἀγαπητός (12:6), and thus as unique (note the preceding ἕνα). It thus carries something of the theological weight of the Johannine μονογενής” France, 82.
  23. Bock, 408
  24. UBS, 31; Stein, 58
  25. Bock, 408
  26. UBS, 31; Garland, 49; Schnabel, 46; Stein, 58; Strauss, 73; France, 82
  27. UBS, 31; Garland, 49; Schnabel, 46; Stein, 58; France, 82
  28. Witherington, 75 cf. Lane, 57; Guelich, 34
  29. Schnabel, 46; Edwards, 38; Strauss, 73; France, 81
  30. Brooks, 43 cf. Lane, 58; Guelich, 35; France, 74
  31. UBS, 28; English, 40; Cole, 109; Lane, 57; cf. Is 49:3; Edwards, 37; Guelich, 32; cf. Mt 12:17-21; France, 77
  32. Schnabel, 47
  33. France, 81
  34. Kergnahan, 36
  35. Kernaghan, 36; cf. Isaiah 53
  36. Strauss, 73; contra Stein, 59
  37. Brooks, 43; Kernaghan, 36
  38. Edwards, 37
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